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Hebrews 6:1-3

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The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

Before you read: This article is part of a larger series that builds on itself from the foundation up, with each study building on the last. If something in this article does not make sense to you or if you believe it to be incorrect please be sure you have read over the entire course before passing your final judgment. Also be sure to visit this page’s FAQ And Objections Page

After considering so much about the subject of the Holy Ghost I believe the most basic, and important thing left untouched is this subject. What was the role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament?

We have said over and over that God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all one, and the same God. The three are not 3 separate persons, but rather 3 manifestations of the SAME person. This is why the Bible tells us that God is one, and it is why even Jesus said that He was in the Father and the Father was in Him.

So a very crude, and simple way of saying it would be to say that anything done by God in the Old Testament was done by the Holy Spirit. That’s the simple answer to what the role of the Holy Spirit was. But I believe there is more to the question than that.

What Is the Day of Pentecost

Most people know Pentecost as the day that the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples in the upper room. This is when they began to speak in tongues. But, the day of Pentecost was not something new. It is actually a day in the Old Testament that God commanded to be the beginning of the wheat harvest.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came? Why didn’t He just give Spirit right then and there? I have wondered about that.

The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

Well, if you add up the days between the resurrection and when the Holy Spirit was given you get 50 days. The day of Pentecost was supposed to be celebrated 50 days after the Passover. So Jesus told them to wait because Pentecost would be the start of the wheat harvest. And, as you probably know, the wheat harvest is symbolic of the gathering of saints.

You can read more about the feasts in Leviticus 23. But, since we are just going over the basics it is enough to simply say for now that the day of Pentecost was not a new concept. It was an old one, with a newly understood meaning.

As far as people in the Old Testament knew it was simply a day to celebrate the beginning of harvest. But, as with many other things in the Old Testament, this also was an example of a spiritual principle. The day of Pentecost would not only be the day of a physical harvest of wheat, … it would be the beginning of the spreading of the gospel!

God Never Changed

But, this is the real question. What is different between now and then when it comes to the Spirit of God?

Malachi 3:6

For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Obviously, God has not changed. But while God has not changed in who He is or how He acts, He does DO things from time to time that is a little bit different.

Isaiah 43:19

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

So what God does today doesn’t have to be what He did yesterday. He remains the same, His beliefs and what He acts on are all the same. Yet, God flooded the earth before and promised not to flood it with water again. Next time it will be fire! God never changed! Only His tools did.

Did the Holy Spirit Indwell Old Testament Believers

So now that we, once again, have said that God does not change we will ask another question. How did He interact in the lives of the Old Testament people vs. the New Testament?

Acts 2:16-21

16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

This is what Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. He explained that the events being witnessed were the fulfillment of prophecy. It was the prophecy of how God would pour His Spirit out on His servants in the last days. That was why these men were speaking in tongues and preaching.

But, had God not poured out His Spirit on people in the past? What about all of the prophets and the great men of God that we read about in every book of the Old Testament?

Numbers 14:24

But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

Numbers 27:18

And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;

Exodus 31:2–3

2 See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: 3 And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,

Micah 3:8

But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.

Old Prophets

Yes, the Spirit of God had indeed been upon those men. They would speak the word of God, through the Spirit of God Himself. They performed miracles through that Spirit. They healed the sick and even raised the dead. All of these things were not just done in the New Testament. They were also done in the Old Testament.

Luke 1:15

For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

Even John the Baptist was said to have not only had the Holy Ghost come upon him but was FILLED with the Holy Ghost FROM birth.

So what is different? What is it about the pouring out of the Holy Ghost upon believers that changed on the day of Pentecost?

The Coming of the Holy Ghost

Now, since we know the Holy Ghost worked in the lives of the Old Testament people we need to know what was so different. Many believe that the difference is that in the Old Testament the Holy Ghost would “come upon” people but never “stay” with the person. But, in the New Testament, He makes His abode with us.

But, as we have already seen in the scriptures above this simply isn’t the case. In fact, there is something vital that we need to address here.

John 3:3-10

3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

Nothing New

That last line in verse 10 is very important. Jesus was basically saying that this isn’t new information. So when He spoke to Nicodemus about being born of the Spirit He was not talking about something new, or only to come in the near future.

Jesus was speaking of being filled with the Holy Spirit, which makes a person new (born again). As we already covered in unit 3 the Holy Spirit is what breathes new life into us when we turn to follow God. That life was a part of the Old Testament believers as well as the new.

Psalm 139:3-5

3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. 5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

David spoke of how God was with him all of the time. He spoke here of how the Spirit of God was behind him, in front of him, and even upon him. We are told in the New Testament that a man can not love God without being born of the Spirit.

Romans 8:7-9

7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

So if the only way to love God is to be filled with the Spirit of God, and that means having new life breathed into you, then even people in the Old Testament had to be born again!

This is why what Jesus said to Nicodemus should not have been news to him. The Holy Spirit had been around the entire time working in the lives of people.

John 7:39

(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

Wait, … if the Holy Ghost was given to John the Baptist, Moses, Joshua, and so on then how does this verse apply?

John 20:21-22

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

Before Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they would be given power from on high Jesus had already GIVEN them the Holy Ghost! And, before that, John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Ghost. Before him, many others were filled with the Holy Ghost as we have seen.

So how could they have received the Holy Ghost if He had not yet been given?

This is why I spoke of the meaning of the day of Pentecost. Up until this time the Bible says that salvation was of the Jews.

John 4:21-23

21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

Romans 1:15-16

15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

So we see that it was the Jews who had heard of and known of God that had the ability to worship Him as He is, … as God. They were the ones that received the law, the promise, and so on. The rest of the world did not. They only heard of the God of the Jews but had not known Him as the Jews did. Nevertheless, those on the outside were given mercy as God “winked at their ignorance”.

Romans 2:13-15

13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

Romans 3:1-2

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.


So this brings up a good question. Who was Jesus going to be giving the Holy Ghost to that He had not yet given Him to? We have already seen that the Holy Ghost was already active in the lives of the Old Testament saints. They were filled with Him. This wasn’t just momentarily either since it says that John the Baptist would be filled from birth and on.

But who had God not yet revealed Himself fully to? What was the promise that Peter said had come upon them as spoken of by Joel?

The Difference between Receiving the Holy Spirit & Receiving Power

Joel 2:28-32

28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come. 32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

The Lord would pour out His Spirit upon ALL FLESH. That means He was no longer going to be just intimately known to the Jews. He was going to be known worldwide! He was going to give His Spirit to ALL who would call on His name.

Romans 10:12-15

12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

This is where we find our answer. Pentecost wasn’t the first time the Holy Spirit had been given. In fact, you will not see that spoken of at all as being the time of Him being GIVEN. The day of Pentecost WAS the day they received POWER from Him though to begin the harvest, … to spread the gospel and cause the whole world to hear, believe, and be given the same Holy Spirit of God.

It would be redundant to say they were “filled again” with the Holy Ghost since He was already in them at the time of Pentecost. But the Holy Ghost was now going to be given to the whole world and this day was the day God gave them the power to spread this message.

Now, remember that the prophets in the Old Testament did not control the time or method God would work through them. They walked with God and the Bible says the Spirit of God was in them. They had received Him. But the power to act under the influence of the Holy Ghost came and went as God desired.

Power after the holy ghost

Therefore, this power is not the “baptism of the Holy Ghost” in the day of Pentecost. This is simply the unleashing of the power in that moment for the purpose of spreading the gospel. They had to wait on God to open their mouths so that nothing said would be of them.

Today we also have times when the Holy Spirit chooses to operate through us with certain gifts given at the moment they are needed. This is being endued with power from on high. But it is NOT the receiving of the power giver. That comes at salvation itself.

In our next course, we will begin to speak on the subject of the laying on of hands.

Unit 4 Complete. Return To Course Home To Begin Unit 5 – The Laying on of Hands OR

Return To Christianity 101 Unit 4 To Review What You Have Gone Over

November 8, 2016 at 10:42 pm | | No comment

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